If you have relocated since an order regarding alimony or child support has been entered by a court it is important to understand your options with regard to enforcing these foreign judgments in your new home state. Enforcing foreign orders is governed by the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, however, the governing laws are lengthy and can be difficult to navigate. Therefore, when attempting to enforce an out of state support order ensure you are properly represented by a family law attorney to fight for your rights and guide you through this process.
The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act was formulated to provide states with a national standard for the enforcement of foreign orders. Although the Act provides that certain courts or states have higher jurisdiction, the courts are required to work together to collaboratively reach a solution for the family. Therefore, if you have moved to Florida and have a support order from a different state you can seek enforcement of the foreign order in the state of Florida, however, certain protocols must be followed.
Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution Florida courts must recognize and can enforce a judicial order of another state. Therefore, you may file your Petition for Enforcement in Florida, regarding a foreign court order. However, if the foreign court still retains continued and exclusive jurisdiction, Florida will not be able to retain jurisdiction over the matter and must return it to the initial court. This exclusive jurisdiction may be overcome if the parties to the case agree to the new jurisdiction of the Florida court, or if neither party or child resides within the initial state. Even if Florida is able to retain jurisdiction over the foreign case, they will still be required to adhere to the initial state’s laws regarding the support.
If able to retain jurisdiction, the courts will be able to work together to gather the necessary documents and evidence in order to conclude the case. For instance, Florida would be able to request copies of the petitions, pleadings, documents from enforcement agencies, seek aid in obtaining certain discovery documents held within the foreign state’s possession or jurisdiction. The court “may communicate with a tribunal outside this state in a record, or by telephone, electronic mail, or other means, to obtain information concerning the laws of that state, the legal effect of a judgment, decree, or order of that tribunal, and the status of a proceeding.” Therefore, they are many ways to incorporate and collaborate the two distinct state courts.
The process of enforcing an out of state order can involve different courts, states, and application of laws. Therefore, it is imperative that you obtain counsel who understands the procedures required for enforcing an out of state judgment and the involvement of the multiple state courts. Seek out an experienced attorney to discuss the elements of your specific case and obtain more information regarding the steps you must take to protect and fight for your rights.
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